The Republican Families of Old North Carolina

See the source image
Jeter C. Pritchard (R-N.C.), 1895-1903.

From 1876 to 1964, North Carolina voted for a Republican president exactly one time: Herbert Hoover in 1928. The most prominent families in North Carolina politics from the fundamentally disadvantaged Republican Party were the Pritchards and the Jonases. After Reconstruction, Democrats were dominant but the economic depression that came out of the Panic of 1893 tried even the Democratic dominance of the South. In Alabama and North Carolina they especially had problems holding on. After the 1894 election, the Republican-Populist multiracial coalition came to dominate the state. The state legislature, now under the control of this coalition, elected in a compromise Republican Jeter C. Pritchard (MCI: 83%) and Populist Marion P. Butler. This was an odd pairing, as Pritchard was a conservative while Butler was a progressive. However, this coalition’s power didn’t last for reasons I have covered in my “How the South Became Republican, Part III” posting. Pritchard did in 1898 request President William McKinley to send federal marshals to protect black voters in the upcoming election from intimidation and violence, expressing his fear that there would be a “race war”, but no help was to come from the White House (Zucchino, 132-134). However, Pritchard and Congressman George White were at odds as the former was willing to make overtures to the “lily-white” faction and by 1900, he had come fully on board as the state’s Jim Crow constitution had been implemented and wasn’t going away any time soon. In 1902, he didn’t bother to run for reelection. On November 10, 1903, President Roosevelt nominated Pritchard to serve on the D.C. Supreme Court. On June 1, 1904, he was elevated to the Fourth Circuit. He from the bench pushed against Jim Crow laws, calling for the Senate to declare the grandfather clause unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments (Zucchino, 312). The Supreme Court did rule the grandfather clause unconstitutional in Guinn v. United States (1915), but Southern states found other legal means to exclude as many black voters as possible. Pritchard would remain in the judiciary until his death.

In 1928, Republicans saw some success in the elections of Charles A. Jonas (MCI: 93%) and Pritchard’s son, George M. Pritchard (MCI: 87%), to Congress. However, on race issues the son seems to have fallen a bit from the tree; he adamantly refused to have his office next to Oscar De Priest’s (R-Ill.), the first black American elected to Congress in the 20th century. This may have been to increase his profile for his senatorial ambitions. In 1930, he ran for the Senate but lost by over 20 points to Democrat Josiah W. Bailey, who would end up being a prominent foe of FDR’s New Deal. Pritchard was not daunted by his margin of defeat and challenged the election, alleging voter fraud. This in truth served as nothing more than a symbolic challenge to Democratic dominance of North Carolina, as even if contested counties were ruled out, Bailey would still win.

In 1948, Pritchard ran for governor and although he easily lost he gained attention for his call for using the state’s budget surplus to fund education. Jonas lost reelection in 1930 with the onset of the Great Depression and attempted twice more to run for Congress, in 1932 and in 1942 against former Governor Cameron Morrison for North Carolina’s 10th district, which he lost by over 10 points. However, his son, Charles R. Jonas (MCI: 93%), won the district ten years later. He would be the first long-term Republican Congressman in the 20th century from the state, serving from 1953 to 1973. He gained a reputation as a staunch fiscal conservative, regularly proposing 1% cuts in spending for various departments which would regularly fail in Democratic Congresses. These efforts would earn him the designation of “Watchdog of the Treasury” and his loyalty to conservative Republican positions earned him “Mr. Republican”. Jonas voted against most civil rights measures during the civil rights era, making exceptions for the 24th Amendment (poll tax ban) and the Jury Selection and Service Act in 1968. However, he moderated on civil rights issues during the Nixon Administration. Jonas was also one of twenty-four representatives to vote against the Equal Rights Amendment in 1971. In 1972, he opted not to run for reelection.


Baker, M.A. (1988). Jonas, Charles Andrew. NCPedia.

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Charles Jonas Dies. (1988, October 1). The Washington Post.

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Cherry, R.L. (1994). Pritchard, George Moore. NCPedia.

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Dunlap, A.B. (2015). Tea and Equality: The Hoover Administration and the DePriest Incident. U.S. Archives.

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Justesen, B.R. (2006). Lily-White Politics. NCPedia.

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Morgan, J.L. (1994). Pritchard, Jeter Conley. NCPedia.

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The Election Case of George M. Pritchard v. Josiah W. Bailey of North Carolina (1933). U.S. Senate.

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Zucchino, D. (2020). Wilmington’s lie: the murderous coup of 1898 and the rise of white supremacy.

Boston, MA: Atlantic Monthly Press.

The Minnesota Massacre

On November 7, 1978, President Jimmy Carter, as have most presidents, faced a midterm. Midterms tend not to go well for the president’s party. They were not bad historically speaking nationwide as although Democrats lost seats in quite a few places but they partially mitigated it by winning in other places and they held both chambers. This has, as of the time of writing, been the last time this would happen for the president’s party in a midterm. One place, however, in which the election was an unmitigated disaster for them was in Minnesota. This massacre was not any sort of shootout, rather it was a political massacre closer to the sense that Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” was one.

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Wendell Anderson, the most prominent casualty of the “Minnesota Massacre”.

1976 in a number of ways was a good election year for Minnesota Democrats. Walter Mondale was the second Minnesota Democrat to be elected vice president, and the other Minnesota Democrat to have been vice president, Hubert Humphrey, was reelected as expected. However, in the wake of this success it was little known that an era was about to end. With Mondale in the vice presidency, Governor Wendell Anderson, who was polished, young, popular, and a rising star in the Democratic Party, took his opportunity. He resigned and had his successor, Lieutenant Governor Rudy Perpich, appoint him to the Senate. The story of the other senator, on the other hand, was a sad affair. Humphrey had for years been having problems with his bladder and on August 18, 1977, his surgeon declared his cancer “terminal”; it had spread to his pelvis and was inoperable. On January 13, 1978, he died and his widow Muriel was appointed to hold the seat until the next election. The primary to succeed Humphrey was a bitter one between staunch liberal Minneapolis Congressman Don Fraser and more moderate businessman Bob Short, with the latter pulling off a narrow victory. The three Democrats holding all positions were unelected to them, making the seats particularly vulnerable. The Republicans capitalized on this as much as they could and played it smart by nominating for Senate David Durenberger and Rudy Boschwitz and for Governor Congressman Al Quie. None of these men were doctrinaire conservatives, rather ranged from moderate to moderate conservative. Anderson’s move was highly unpopular and it reflected poorly on Perpich as well, and the former serves as one of eight examples why governors getting themselves appointed to the Senate by their successors is a terrible idea. On election day 1978, Durenberger wrecked Short, prevailing by 26 points as many liberal Democrats preferred a moderate Republican to an insufficiently liberal Democrat. Boschwitz knocked out Anderson by 16 points, and Quie defeated Perpich by 7 points. Anderson and Short never ran for elected office again, a stunning turn for the former who had at one time been speculated as a vice president pick. The latter might have had further political aspirations, but he died in 1982. Quie, however, opted not to run again in 1982 after a difficult term, enabling Perpich to make a comeback and he served as governor for eight years afterwards. Boschwitz stayed in office until his 1990 defeat by Paul Wellstone and Durenberger until 1995, who had opted not to run for reelection after an ethics scandal resulted in his censure and continuing legal problems.

Minnesota has become a bit more of a competitive state on the national scale in recent years than the age of such Democratic giants as Humphrey, McCarthy, and Mondale but Republicans still have their work cut out for them before they can pull off another triumph like 1978.


Dornfield, S. (2016, July 18). Wendell Anderson: A shooting star who fell to earth. MinnPost.

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Humphrey’s Cancer is Called Terminal. (1977, August 19). The New York Times.

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Investigating Social Shifts: LGBT Issues Part II

For much of American history, homosexuality was largely considered unspeakable and unprintable, and this was evident with how some apparently closeted politicians were addressed. In 1924, Harold Knutson’s (R-Minn.) apparent tryst in a car with a male bureaucrat was reported as a “grave moral offense” and despite offering officers a bribe he survived the scandal and even became chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. It was regarded as an open secret that Senator David I. Walsh (D-Mass.) was a homosexual, but the public of the state had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude on it. As long as Walsh’s homosexuality was kept in the shadows, the Massachusetts public largely chose to look the other way. It was only after unsubstantiated accusations by Walter Winchell of him frequenting a Nazi-infiltrated brothel that he was defeated for reelection in 1946.  During the 1950s, homosexuals were thought of as security risks in government by numerous American anti-communist politicians and the American government as they were under the belief that they were vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents. They also thought them to be susceptible to communist recruitment and psychologically disturbed. Such beliefs were bolstered by the fact that most of the founders of the gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society, were along with its leader, Harry Hay, communists. Ironically, Hay himself was expelled from the Communist Party, at his own recommendation to protect the party which also opposed homosexuality at the time, as a “security risk” (Feinberg).

In President Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450 in 1953, “sexual perversion” is the term employed for grounds for investigation and dismissal rather than outright stating “homosexuality”. Although that term was probably employed so that other practices regarded as objectionable by society could be grounds, most of the time it meant homosexuality. This was the greatest legal product of the Lavender Scare. In addition to investigating the government for the presence of communists, anti-communist politicians also investigated homosexuality. Senators Kenneth Wherry (R-Neb.) and Lister Hill (D-Ala.) were central figures in the Senate in investigating homosexuality in the government through a short-lived committee. Wherry himself expressed an attitude that reflected that of many of his fellow legislators and Americans, “You can’t hardly separate homosexuals from subversives…But look, Lerner, we’re both Americans, aren’t we? I say let’s get these fellows out of the government” (Lerner, 313-16). This was followed up by another, larger investigation headed by Clyde Hoey (D-N.C.), which included six other senators. The talk about homosexuality was constrained, however, by the fact that the six male senators, all who were socially conservative, were deeply uncomfortable discussing sex in front of Margaret Chase Smith (R-Me.). In fact, the courtly Senator Hoey even asked Smith to skip discussions on the ground that they couldn’t ask more explicit questions with her present (Adkins). Unlike the investigations of HCUA, McCarran, or McCarthy into communists, this one didn’t involve the public naming of names, thus its comparative obscurity. Thousands of people, mostly men, were dismissed from federal government jobs on grounds of “sexual perversion”.  Some committed suicide after their dismissal. The assertion that these people were psychologically disturbed was in that time backed by the American Psychiatric Association, which in 1952 classified homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” but noted within the report that they were “ill primarily in terms of society and of conformity with the prevailing cultural milieu” (Adkins). Thus, their failure to be within society’s range of “normal” was the foremost issue. However, politicians and the public weren’t reading the fine print. Thus, at least on the surface their views had the backing of the medical community in that day and age. While many think the gay rights movement started with the police raid at Stonewall Inn in 1969, I think it can be more accurately said that it started with the military’s firing of astronomer Franklin Kameny in 1957 over an arrest the previous year for “lewd and indecent acts”. Kameny went on to found the Washington D.C. branch of the Mattachine Society in 1961 with Jack Nichols, which actively lobbied for gay rights. By this time, the Mattachine Society had become more decentralized, and the leadership was no longer communist. The movement had a long way to go, though. In 1972, a same-sex couple challenged Minnesota’s marriage law, which the Supreme Court dismissed with the following sentence, “The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question” (Morini, 2017). You might even argue that the Lavender Scare did not technically end until 1975, when the Civil Service Commission officially ruled that sexuality was not longer a criterion for dismissal. This was two years after the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a “psychiatric disorder”, instead classifying it as a “sexual orientation disturbance” (The New York Times). A lot of this was thanks to the efforts of Kameny. Since this declassification, gradually homosexuality began to grow in acceptance. However, there was pushback. Phyllis Schlafly, as part of her arguments against the Equal Rights Amendment, warned that such an amendment could force the sharing of public bathrooms with men and women (turns out ERA wasn’t necessary for this development) and the legalization of same-sex marriage (this proved correct with Hawaii’s ERA in 1993) (Gallagher & Bull). In 1977, Anita Bryant founded Save Our Children, Inc., and managed to lobby voters to overturn recently passed local laws that protected against discrimination by sexual orientation. The following year, California legislator John Briggs proposed an initiative to ban homosexuals and those who would advocate that lifestyle from teaching in California. Polling on the initiative was initially showed it at 61% support and 31% opposition, that is, until Ronald Reagan came out against it and the measure failed 41-58%. However, Reagan would not be viewed favorably by gay activists during his presidency for his administration’s response to AIDS.

The Reagan Administration’s approach to gay rights was expressed by Reagan himself in the 1980 campaign, stating, “My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I” (Scheer, 154). He was criticized for not publicly speaking about AIDS until 1985, and although annual funding for AIDS had skyrocketed from $44 million in 1983 to $1.6 billion in 1988 his administration’s response was regarded as insufficient. Many gay activists interpreted the government’s falling short as a product of homophobia, and this wasn’t helped by Reagan’s public refusal to condone homosexuality as a lifestyle and the fact that some of the Reagan Administration’s most prominent supporters were outspoken in their condemnation of homosexuality as immoral, such as Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Representative William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.). Although there was consensus reached in developing a comprehensive governmental response to AIDS and gay activism got more attention, homosexuality was still not mainstreamed. Although in 1996 the Defense of Marriage Act passed overwhelmingly, it was in the 1990s that the change in the public’s perception of homosexuality started to accelerate.

One of the major changes, according to Hart-Brinson (2016), is that older generations of Americans regarded homosexuality as a “behavior” while people who came of age after 1990 regard it as an “identity”. This change in public perception becomes critical to understanding the increasing acceptance of it. The idea is that behavior is controllable while identity is not. As Morini (2017) notes, “The crucial shift in public opinion was possible thanks to a coordinated nationwide political campaign which was able to position gay and lesbian rights as a civil rights issue, making it more difficult for others to oppose the changes. The strategy also included high profile individuals who publicly disclosed that they are gay or lesbian. Additionally, the entertainment industry helped in making particular efforts to show gay and lesbian characters as more mainstream in their productions. What it achieved was remarkable: not just a Supreme Court decision but a revolution in the way America sees homosexuals”. Additionally, the Gallup organization examined numerous moral issues and found that in their polling between 2001 and 2015 acceptance for numerous practices had moved in a more liberal direction, with same-sex marriage gaining a whopping 23 points in acceptance, the highest of all changes. This was reflected as well with Democratic politicians, particularly ones who were major figures like Hillary Clinton shifting from opposition to same-sex marriage in 2004 to embracing same-sex marriage in 2016. As Morini (2017) notes, “Hillary Clinton’s re-positioning on LGBT rights simply reflects the evolution of the political zeitgeist. In the United States of 2004, there were things that could not be said without moving out of the mainstream, of the socially acceptable. In the United States of 2016, the situation has completely reversed: if those same things are not said, people can even be barred from civil debate, at least from that of the Democratic Party”.

The true turning point on same-sex marriage was the 2012 election. Before then, conservatives had a powerful argument that this was an outsider movement that lacked support from the electorate. Indeed, in all cases before the 2012 elections, same-sex marriage lost at the ballot box. The voters of Maine, Maryland, and Washington that year, however, voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The truth is, that by the time Obergefell v. Hodges was decided in 2015 that invalidated all state laws restricting marriage to between a man and a woman, the national debate had already been won by the advocates of same-sex marriage.

Now what we have is a political controversy between the roles of LGBT rights and freedom of religion in our society. Additionally, with trans rights the matter is muddier as to what degree it is identity and what degree it is, in fact, mutable behavior. GLAAD, a major gay rights lobby, has the following on their website, “Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures” (GLAAD). Under this reasoning, there is no objective way to tell if someone is transgender other than by their word for policy purposes. Civil rights activists, by the way, think this should be enough to justify policy changes (Trotta). That’s not even to mention the contradictions that exist in transgender ideology, including the idea that biology is not destiny, but gender identity is innate and immutable (Anderson). It has become gender informing biology rather than biology informing gender. That is, if you even believe in John Money’s gender theory. But the story on him is, possibly, for another time.  


Adkins, J. (2016). “These People Are Frightened to Death” – Congressional Investigations and the Lavender Sacre. Prologue Magazine, 48(2).

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Anderson, R. (2018, February 9). Transgender Ideology is Riddled With Contradictions. Here Are the Big Ones. The Heritage Foundation.

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Feinberg, L. (2005, June 28). Harry Hay: Painful partings. Workers World.

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Gallagher, J. & Bull, C. Perfect Enemies: The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s. The Washington Post.

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Hart-Brinson, P. (2016, February 8). The Social Imagination of Homosexuality and the Rise of Same-sex Marriage in the United States. American Sociological Association.

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Lerner, M. (1959). The unfinished country: a book of American symbols. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

McCarthy, J. (2021, June 8). Record-High 70% in U.S. Support Same-Sex Marriage. Gallup.

Morini, M. (2017). Same-Sex Marriage and Other Moral Taboos: Cultural Acceptances, Change in American Public Opinion and the Evidence from the Opinion Polls. European Journal of American Studies, 11(3).

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Scheer, R. (2006). Playing president: my close encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton – and how they did not prepare me for George W. Bush. Akashic Books.

The A.P.A. Ruling on Homosexuality. (1973, December 23). The New York Times.

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Transgender FAQ. GLAAD.

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Trotta, D. (2017, August 2). Born this way? Researchers explore the science of gender identity. Reuters.

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Investigating Social Shifts: LGBT Issues

One of the most astounding legislative and societal shifts I have seen in my lifetime has been how the American public and its legislators perceive issues surrounding people who are not strictly heterosexual. What I aim to do for this post and the next one is to organize important votes surrounding what we now call LGBT rights issues and ultimately explain what happened with this shift in opinion. For some of these votes early on I’m going to include ones surrounding AIDS, as this illness was in the 1980s largely perceived as mostly impacting homosexual men. Also included are efforts at prohibiting equal recognition through benefits of married and unmarried couples. The most striking shifts I’m seeing so far include on same-sex marriage and gays in the military. I also doubt that 20-25 years ago people were thinking that there would be a universal embrace of trans rights issues by the Democratic Party. Additionally, I’m seeing that some of the change is due to Democratic legislators who voted against LGBT measures losing reelection to Republicans or have since retired.



Mathias (R-Md.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment, Nullifying a D.C. Law Prohibiting AIDS Testing of Insurance Policy Applicants.

Rejected 41-53: R 15-34; D 26-19, 8/1/86.

Danforth (R-Mo.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) AIDS Testing Requirement for Immigrants and Marriage License Applicants.

Passed 63-32: D 39-8; R 24-24, 5/21/87.

Armstrong Amendment, Exempt Religious Institutions from Law Prohibiting Bias Against Gays and Lesbians in Washington D.C.

Passed 58-33: D 21-25; R 37-8, 7/11/88.

Weicker (R-Conn.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment

The Helms amendment blocked funding for the Department of Health and Human Services until a prohibition was issued against the promotion of alternative lifestyles.

Passed 47-46: D 35-11; R 12-35, 7/27/88.

Mitchell (D-Me.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment to the Americans With Disabilities Act, Permitted Transfer of Food-Handling Employees with Communicable Diseases to Equivalent Paying Positions.

Rejected 40-53: D 32-17; R 7-36, 6/6/90.

Kennedy (D-Mass.) Motion to Table Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment, Permitting Health Care Officials to Test Patients for AIDS Before Invasive Medical Procedures Except in Emergencies.

Rejected 44-55: D 35-19; R 8-36, 7/30/91.

Helms (R-N.C.) Amendment Excluding From Federal Employee Contribution Fund Charities That Withdraw Support for the Boy Scouts of America.

Rejected 49-49: D 17-36; R 32-12, 9/22/92.

Boxer (D-Calif.) Amendment, Overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

Rejected 33-63: D 28-24; R 4-39, 9/9/93.

Helms Amendment, Prohibit Funds for Ryan White Act Being Used to Directly or Indirectly Promote Homosexuality or Intravenous Drug Use.

Adopted 54-45: R 40-13; D 14-32, 7/27/95.

Defense of Marriage Act

Passed 85-14: R 53-0; D 32-14, 9/10/96.

Prohibit Job Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Rejected 49-50: R 8-45; D 41-5, 9/10/96.

Kennedy Hate Crimes Amendment, Adopted 57-42: R 13-41; D 44-1, 6/20/00.

Helms Amendment, Boy Scouts

Adopted 51-49: D 8-42; R 43-6; I 0-1, 6/14/01.

End Debate, Hate Crimes Based on Sexual Orientation

Rejected 54-43: D 49-1; R 4-42; I 1-0, 6/11/02.

Note: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) voted against as a parliamentary maneuver so he could potentially reintroduce it later in the session.  

Smith (R-Ore.) Amendment, Add Hate Crimes Legislation That Includes Sexual Orientation.

Adopted 65-33: R 18-33; D 47-0, 6/15/04.

Federal Marriage Amendment Cloture

Rejected 48-50: R 45-6; D 3-43, 7/14/04.

Federal Marriage Amendment Cloture

Rejected 49-48: R 47-7; D 2-40; I 0-1, 6/7/06.

Kennedy Hate Crimes Amendment, Invoke Cloture.

Agreed 60-39: D 49-0; R 9-39; I 2-0, 9/27/07.

Invoke Cloture on Hate Crimes Bill for Sexual Orientation.

Passed 63-28: D 56-0; R 5-28; I 2-0, 7/16/09.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

Passed 63-33: D 55-0; R 8-31; I 2-0, 12/18/10.

Toomey (R-Penn.) Amendment, Religious Freedom Protection in Non-Discrimination Requirement.

Rejected 43-55: D 2-50; R 41-3; I 0-2, 11/7/13.


Hate Crimes Statistics – Substitute “Homosexuality” or “Heterosexuality” for “Sexual Orientation” Under Reporting Categories

Passed 384-30: D 243-2; R 141-28, 5/18/88.

Dixon (D-Calif.) Motion, Weaken Senate Armstrong Amendment Regarding Religious Exemptions for Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Law of D.C..

Rejected 134-201: R 11-124; D 122-77, 9/30/88.

Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) Amendment requiring reporting AIDS to the state public health office as a condition for AIDS Federal Policy funds.

Rejected 70-327: D 4-228; R 66-97, 10/22/88.

Natcher (D-Ky.) Motion, Kill Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) Amendment, Prohibiting Funds Appropriated for Education From Being Spent to Teach About Homosexuality or Bisexuality.

Passed 279-134: D 236-6; R 43-128, 8/2/89.

Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) Amendment, Exempt Religious Organizations from Anti-Discrimination Law Based on Sexual Orientation

Passed 262-154: D 109-133; R 153-20, 10/3/89.

Chapman (D-Tex.) Amendment, Permitting Transfer of Food-Handling Employees with Communicable Diseases to Equivalent Paying Positions.

Passed 199-187: D 78-154; R 121-32, 5/17/90.

DeLay (R-Tex.) Motion to Prohibit D.C. from Granting Same Benefits for Domestic Partnerships as Marriages.

Passed 235-173: D 90-156; R 145-16: I 0-1, 9/24/92.

Istook (R-Okla.) amendment, Prohibit Funds for Enforcing D.C. Domestic Partners Ordinance, Granting Unmarried Couples Same Benefits as Married.

Passed 251-177: D 94-162; R 157-14; I 0-1, 6/30/93.

Hunter (R-Calif.) Amendment, Require Defense Department to Ask Armed Forces Applicants on Sexual Orientation.

Rejected 144-287: D 29-224; R 115-61; I 0-1, 9/28/93.

Meehan (D-Mass.) Amendment, Strike Provisions Codifying a Ban on Homosexuals in the Military.

Rejected 169-264: D 157-101; R 11-163; I 0-1, 9/28/93.

Defense of Marriage Act

Passed 342-67: R 224-1; D 118-65; I 0-1, 7/12/96.

Conyers Hate Crime Legislation, Include Sexual Orientation Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Agreed to 232-192: R 41-175; D 190-16; I 1-1, 9/13/2000.

Weldon (R-Fla.) Amendment, Prohibit the Use of Local and Federal Funds to Extend Health Benefits to Unmarried Domestic Partners.

Failed 194-226: R 175-41, D 18-184; I 1-1, 9/25/01.

Marriage Protection Amendment

Rejected 227-186: R 191-27; D 36-158; I 0-1, 9/30/04.

Conyers Hate Crimes Amendment

Adopted 223-199: R 30-194; D 192-5; I 1-0, 9/14/05.

Marriage Protection Amendment

Rejected 236-187: R 202-27; D 34-159; I 0-1, 7/18/06.

Hate Crimes Bill for Sexual Orientation

Passed 249-175: D 231-17; R 18-158, 4/29/09.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.

Passed 250-175: D 235-15; R 15-160, 12/15/10.

Huelskamp (R-Kan.) Amendment, Bar Use of Federal Funds to Train Military Chaplains to Implement “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal.

Passed 236-184: R 227-9; D 9-175, 7/8/11.

Equality Act

Passed 236-173: D 228-0; R 8-173, 5/17/19.

Equality Act

Passed 224-206: D 221-0; R 3-206, 2/25/21.

“Barry Goldwater Turned Liberal”: How Much Truth is There?

Barry Goldwater — The Most Consequential Loser Of The 20th Century | The  Heritage Foundation

There are a few reasons a liberal might like Goldwater. First, he butted heads at times with figures of the “religious right”. In 1981, for instance, he said in response to Jerry Falwell’s statement that all Christians should be concerned about the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court that “Every good Christian should kick Jerry Falwell in the ass” (Allen). As I wrote in my last post, liking Jerry Falwell isn’t a prerequisite to conservatism. For this post, I’m going to look at Goldwater’s voting record after 1980 as well as his public statements and actions after office and provide accurate context for them. This is the period in which Goldwater was said to have gone “liberal”.

Goldwater’s Final Term

By 1980 a lot of new residents had moved into Arizona, and many were not familiar with Goldwater and vice versa, leaving the door open for a strong challenge. While he had won reelection by about 17 points in 1974, he won reelection in a much stronger year for Republicans by only about a point. Goldwater thus opted not to run again, and his final term reflected a bit more independence from the conservative line than in previous terms. First, Goldwater’s liberalism must be viewed exclusively in a social context. He remained a conservative on economic issues and foreign policy.

There were a few issues he changed a bit on though, such as school prayer and abortion, but even those are not so dramatic when looked at in the proper context. The times in which Goldwater seemed to vote for socially liberal positions regarded Congress telling the courts what to do and Congress telling Washington D.C. what to do. Thus, his votes against prohibiting D.C. from funding abortions and votes against ordering courts not to order busing and prohibit school prayer. He also voted against the Hatch-Eagleton Amendment in 1983 which would have permitted states to ban abortion and against a school prayer amendment in 1984. The origin of Goldwater’s newfound seeming social liberalism came from his intense dislike of some emerging religious figures in the conservative movement like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He said about such people, “I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C’ and ‘D’. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” (Allen)

Goldwater was not averse to amending the constitution in other ways throughout his career: he had voted for the Equal Rights Amendment in 1953, the 24th Amendment ending the poll tax, the 26th Amendment giving 18-year olds the vote, and for a balanced budget. He had also in all other instances voted against busing and repeatedly voted in support of the Hyde Amendment, which is consistent with a libertarian perspective as it prohibits Medicaid funding of abortions. Funny enough, Goldwater had also endorsed a Right to Life Amendment, which would have granted fetuses constitutional rights. There were other ways in which he was still a hardliner. For instance, he was a leading voice against popular South Africa sanctions as the nation was a Cold War ally, stating after an overwhelming 1985 vote to sanction the nation, “It is a blight on the United States for us to take this action against a friend that has been an ally in every war” (Omang). Goldwater also backed the death penalty and limiting defendant rights. Final term? Not by much. How about after his Senate career?

Post-Senate Goldwater

Goldwater did and said several things after his retirement that made some Republicans unhappy. First, he spoke early and often for gay rights, especially in the military. Second, he endorsed Democrat Karan English for a Congressional seat in 1992 as he strongly disliked evangelical Republican Doug Wead, thinking him out of touch with Arizona issues. English won a single term before being swept away in the 1994 midterms. This one caused some Republicans to push for effectively excommunicating him. Third, Goldwater backed abortion rights (albeit not unlimited). And fourth, he spoke out in favor of a ban on semiautomatic rifles. It also didn’t help that Goldwater urged Republicans hammering Clinton on Whitewater to “get off his back and let him be president” (Grove). Some attributed his shifts to his second wife, younger and more liberal than him. However, it is possible that some issues arose that were just not there when he was in the Senate. Semiautomatic weapons, for instance, were not a significant issue until the 1990s. Conservatives were not trying an approach to block courts from ruling on certain key social issues until the 1980s, and gay rights had not been a significant political question for most of his Senate career.

Goldwater also had some opinions negative on Clinton as well, including that on foreign policy he “doesn’t know a goddamned thing about it” and was opposed to his healthcare plan (Grove). I honestly think he in his old age liked being a bit contrary and just saying what he wanted to. I’m not sure what that would have translated to if Goldwater was still in the Senate, but another term would have been probably a bit rockier than his last. So, you could say there’s some truth to it, but there was quite a bit of nuance and even seeming contradiction as well, especially on the abortion issue.


Allen, I.R. (1981, September 15). Conservative patriarch Barry Goldwater declared war Tuesday on ‘political preachers’. UPI archives.

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Busch, A.E. (2005). The Goldwater Myth. Claremont Review of Books 6(1).

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GOP patriarch Goldwater backs Democrat. UPI archives.

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Grove, L. (1994, July 28). Barry Goldwater’s Left Turn. The Washington Post.

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Nunez-Eddy, C. (2016, October 28). Barry Morris Goldwater (1909-1998). The Embryo Project Encyclopedia.

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Omang, J. (1985, July 12). Senate Approves S. Africa Sanctions. The Washington Post.

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The Most Pernicious Myth of 9/11 and What I Remember From That Day

See the source image

I originally thought I wasn’t going to write a 9/11 historical piece, rather just an account of what I remembered on the day of the tragedy. However, I remembered a recent discussion I had with some friends and they held on to this belief that Osama bin Laden and the people who made up the Taliban and Al Qaeda were directly funded by the U.S. government to fight the USSR in the 1980s and in that time they were known as the Mujahideen. This myth is best expressed by the left-wing author Bevins who wrote, “In Afghanistan, Soviet troops had been trying to prop up a communist ally for nine years, Moscow’s forces retreated, the CIA-backed Islamist fundamentalists set up a fanatical theocracy, and the West stopped paying attention” (Feroz). Robert Fisk of The Independent talked about “CIA camps in which the Americans once trained Mr. bin Laden’s fellow guerillas” and Mort Rosenblum of the Associated Press wrote, “Usama bin Laden was the type of Soviet-hating freedom fighter that U.S. officials applauded when the world looked a little different” (Rubin). This myth, which I admit makes for a compelling story, has spread far and wide among the far left whose adherents make a habit of blaming America first and believe the CIA is behind many of the evils of the world, the far right whose adherents think America First means withdrawing from the world stage, and even people in the mainstream. This narrative is used to imply that 9/11 amounted to the “chickens coming home to roost” for America and richly deserves to be demolished. If I have succeeded in doing so, by the end of this post you will walk away knowing this narrative is nonsense.

This narrative at first sounds like it makes sense. The Taliban are Islamic fundamentalists, the Mujahideen were Islamic, the communists were militant atheists and brutally suppressed Islam and under the American foreign policy credo of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” they funded those fundamentalists only for the fundamentalists to bite them in the ass later. There are several problems with this narrative. First, the Taliban was founded in 1996, seven years after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989. Second, many more people than religious extremists had reason to fight against the communists in Afghanistan. Third, most members of the Taliban did not fight with the Mujahideen and were in fact opposed to the rule of the Mujahideen.

For the first problem with the narrative, many of the participants in the Taliban had been students in Islamic schools during the 1980s and not fighting with the rebels. They were by and large simply a younger group than the Mujahideen.

For the second problem, the communist regime in Afghanistan the Soviets went in to back against resistance was notorious for its brutality and imprisoning, torturing, and mass murdering of the religious. As journalist Emran Feroz (2021) notes, “A lot of those who succumbed to their ghastly fates at the hands of the Communists were targeted simply because they prayed five times a day, betrayed any sign of religiosity, were people of some standing and influence, or criticized the mass-murdering regime that was in power”. There were far more people who had good reason to fight and fought communist rule than just Islamic fundamentalists. The CIA in fact provided aid to rebels in the country before the USSR invaded and so brutal was their regime, and when the regime looked like it was going to fall apart in the face of resistance, the Soviets stepped in to stop the region from destabilizing and executed Hafizullah Amin, the zealot communist leader who refused to step down. They installed in his place a puppet for Moscow, but still a regime hostile to Islam remained and the Soviets themselves engaged in mass torture and murder of civilian populations. This began the decade long quagmire the Soviets endured in Afghanistan, and aid from the CIA to covertly aid the rebels increased in an effective payback for the Soviets helping the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. In 1986, the United States finally decided to provide Stinger missiles to the rebels ending the covert nature of the aid. Other nations that aided the Mujahideen included Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, and European nations. Also, as Michael Rubin (2002) notes that there was “an early 1990s covert campaign to purchase or otherwise recover surplus Stinger missiles still in the hands of the mujahidin factions”.

For the third problem with the narrative, Zmarak Yousefzai (2014) notes, “The group (Taliban) actually began, with support from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, as a draconian vigilante movement in the Kandahar province that initially aimed to challenge the chaos caused by the Mujahideen – The Afghan fighters the West had actually supported against the Soviets”. In other words, this was a rebellion against the former rebels. What’s more, the United States opposed the rise of the Taliban from the start. In 1997, Secretary of State Madeline Albright issued the following statement, “We are opposed to the Taliban because of their opposition to human rights and their despicable treatment of women and children and great lack of respect of human dignity” (Yousefzai). As for Osama bin Laden, he was not funded by the CIA either. Indeed, per Feroz (2021), “Osama bin Laden joined the war much later, and he never acquired weapons or training directly from the CIA”. Bin Laden thus stands as a tertiary figure in the anti-Soviet fight, bound only by a shared opposition to the anti-Islam position of the Soviets.

Unfortunately, it is often true that what gets people and policies far in this world is not their relation to efficacy or truth, rather how compelling the story told is. The best storytellers in life tend to get the jobs and get their work noticed. This myth surrounding 9/11 is a compelling story to tell, but it also happens to be wrong.

What I Remember on 9/11

When 9/11 happened, I was a 14-year old high school freshman. I was being driven to school by my dad that bright and sunny morning (not the typical story introduction, right?) and I remember hearing about the World Trade Center towers collapsing over the radio. I could hardly believe my ears. Was this what was really happening? My father answered in the affirmative. Since I was in California the attacks had happened while I was asleep. Throughout the day I was disturbed and couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. I also felt a tremendous anger as I wanted bin Laden and his fellow conspirators to pay. To this day I think that bin Laden’s demise was the best thing Obama ever did. I found some relief from the weight I felt by watching the classic Three Stooges short A Plumbing We Will Go (1940), but I knew the nation and the world had changed that day. I don’t recall focusing on the news as heavily in the days afterwards as did the adults, but this was one of four factors that had long-term consequences for my thoughts on politics.

The other three were the irrational nature of political correctness that I now see as the more moderate mother of wokeness, the realization that the schools and teachers in my area had opted to ignore the Venona documents when covering the so-called “Red Scare” of the 1950s as the narrative was more important than the truth, and a .edu website regarding the myth of the “rich got richer and the poor got poorer” and that greed prevailed during the Reagan years that I am having trouble finding at the moment. If I find it I’ll update the post with the link (Update: I found it, It’s called “Contemporary Economic Myths” by economics Professor Steven G. Horwitz, who died this year, link is in references.). I once thought that when I grew up I’d be a Democrat but I doubt I would have ever subscribed to woke ideology or anything falling under the Marxist ideological umbrella. I thought I’d be a “Clinton Democrat”, which I now realize was progressivism adapted to the political climate of the 1990s. Before 9/11, my thoughts on Republicans were that they were hyper-moralistic fuddy-duddies and I was disappointed that Gore had lost. Looking back, I knew more than the average 14-year old but it still wasn’t much. I never thought that during my senior year I’d register as a Republican, but when I was a kid I also never thought I’d sport a beard. Conservative Reverend Jerry Falwell talking about how Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies was gay didn’t warm me up to social conservatism, but one can be a conservative Republican without liking Jerry Falwell or the other evangelical preachers. Given that the Democratic Party of today more and more caters to the woke and the zealotry they exhibit would make the elderly church ladies who approved of Falwell blush, I suppose my turn would have happened at some point whether 9/11 occurred or not. Perhaps being something of an iconoclast is in my blood…I’m not interested in upholding historical myths, even when they come from my side (ex: “JFK was a conservative”, “MLK was a Republican”) and I confess especially not when they come from the far left. A lot of the other beliefs conservatives hold followed from what I came to believe after 9/11, but some I already had from the start and just didn’t know it yet. I think the same is true with a lot of people, but the social circles they stay with and the people they respect and admire just don’t encourage such thought.


Feroz, E. (2021, April 26). What the CIA Did (and Didn’t Do) in Soviet-Occupied Afghanistan. Newlines Magazine.

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Horwitz, S.G. Contemporary Economic Myths. St. Lawrence University.

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Rubin, M. (2002, March 1). Who Is Responsible for the Taliban? The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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Yousefzai, Z. (2014, January 16). Three Myths About the Taliban. Foreign Policy.

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FDR’s Air Mail Fiasco

The other day I visited the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle and found out about this interesting story. In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a mandate to change America through his landslide election, and one of the many ways he went about doing so was through a re-examination of the dispensing of air mail contracts under the Hoover Administration under Postmaster General Walter Brown. The dispensing of air mail contracts had met with protests from smaller airlines, many of whom had in truth sold their contracts already. Brown had looked at the financials of these companies and found that most were dependent on government help and unwilling to make major investments to enable them to grow. Thus, most routes and contracts were awarded to larger airlines with some smaller companies forced to merge to survive at a conference which became known as the “spoils conference” for its alleged corruption. The Roosevelt Administration provided an outlet for such complaints and one of his top legislative supporters, Senator Hugo Black of Alabama, was on the case. His special committee heard and agreed with charges of collusion and favoritism and in the course of the investigation held William P. MacCracken Jr., the former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, in contempt of Congress, for which he was convicted (Lee).

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Postmaster General Walter Brown

On February 9, 1934, President Roosevelt canceled all air mail contracts effective February 19th despite the committee not proving illegality and in the meantime employed the Army Air Corps to deliver the mail. An unusually bad winter combined with a lack of training of these pilots in night flying resulted in 66 crashes or forced landings, with twelve crew members being killed over a period of less than three months. They also often had to work with less than adequate equipment, thus the Army Air Corps hadn’t in truth been given enough time. Famed World War I fighter ace and airline businessman Eddie Rickenbacker denounced the flights as “legalized murder”. Famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was also an airline consultant, testified against the Roosevelt Administration’s approach before Congress. The weakened opposition Republicans also took their opportunity to chime in, with Roosevelt Administration foe Rep. Edith Rogers (R-Mass.) proclaiming, “The story of the air mail will be written in blood on the record of the Roosevelt Administration” (Correll, 64). Most of the blame by the Administration and leading Democrats was foisted upon Major General Benjamin Foulois, who had assured the second assistant postmaster general that the Air Corps could take over the job. Although most of the mail was delivered during this time, the higher incidence of crashes and pilot deaths caused a rush to return air mail to the private sector, and the resulting legislation, the Air Mail Act of 1934, mostly returned the routes and contracts to the arrangements worked out under Brown and unconstitutionally barred, without trial, executives and companies who participated in the conference from bidding on the new contracts. The companies got around it by simply renaming and placing bids. One executive who got banned without even benefiting from the conference was United Airlines’ Philip G. Johnson, who went on participate in the founding of Trans-Canada Airlines. Two major winners, on the other hand, of this law were American Airlines’ E.L. Cord, a major contributor to Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign, and Braniff Airlines, the founders who were politically active Texas Democrats (Van der Linden, 229-235). Neither had participated in the conference. Boeing’s founder, William Boeing, was embittered by the matter and opted for early retirement. Brown’s actions as well as the Air Mail Act of 1934 ultimately resulted in airlines carrying more passengers than mail, bringing about the modern airline industry.

In 1941, Brown and the airline executives involved in the “spoils conference” were exonerated of accusations of fraud and collusion in the awarding of air mail contracts by the U.S. Court of Claims. The outcome of this whole affair was the increased deaths of air mail crew, a reorganization that had changed little from what had happened during the Hoover Administration, and the unjust punishments of executives caught up in the populist fervor of the times.


1934 Airmail Scandal. Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

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Correll, J.T. (March 2008). The Air Mail Fiasco. AIR FORCE Magazine.

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Lee, D.D. (1991). Senator Black’s Investigation of the Air Mail 1933-34. The Historian 53: 423-42.

The Air Mail “Scandal”. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


Van der Linden, F.R. (2002). Airlines and air mail: The post office and birth of the commercial aviation industry. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.

They Also Served: The Senate Placeholders

There are some people in politics who do not have greater ambitions in the field when they enter the Senate.  These are the ones who were appointed or elected to hold the seat until the next election. These people did not try to run for a full term. A few are brought in simply by special election to finish what little of the term there is left and governors make such appointments for a few reasons. One may be to not grant anyone who wants the seat an incumbency advantage and another may be to ensure that their own senatorial ambitions are not hindered by a potentially popular rival. One might ask for the second one, why not just resign and have your successor to appoint yourself if you’re governor? This is because the track record is terrible for governors who effectively appoint themselves! Of the nine governors who took this route between 1933 and 1977, only one won the subsequent election, and this was Albert Benjamin “Happy” Chandler of Kentucky, who was already so popular that he had only narrowly lost a Senate primary narrowly to the highly popular Senate Majority Leader Alben W. Barkley. At an 11% success rate, governors who want to be senators are best off just running for the post in a proper election. Since if I listed all I’d go on all day, I’ll just list some of the more notable ones:

Joseph R. Grundy

A textile manufacturer and President of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, Grundy was appointed after the Senate refused to seat Congressman William S. Vare, whose 1928 election was accused of being won through voter fraud. Grundy was primarily a lobbyist and had no ambitions beyond serving a year, after which Secretary of Labor James J. Davis won the election for a full term in 1930.

Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo

LARRAZOLO, Octaviano Ambrosio

Larrazolo was a man of firsts: he was the first Mexican American to be elected a governor of any state, serving from 1919 to 1921, and he was the first Mexican American to be a senator. As governor, he had fought for civil rights for Latinos. In 1927, Senator Andrieus Jones of New Mexico had died, and Larrazolo ran for the post in November 1928, winning the election to serve the remainder of the term. However, he was at the tail end of his career and his health quickly declined. He cast almost no votes as he was only present in the Senate until December, when he returned to Albuquerque, but stayed in office until March. He died one year later.  

Andrew Jackson Houston

Andrew Jackson Houston 2.jpg

Houston was the last surviving son of the legendary Texas Founding Father Sam Houston and he was appointed in 1941 after the death of Morris Sheppard as a political maneuver by Governor W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, who wanted the seat. He was 86 years old and infirm, only actually participating in four days of Senate proceedings and a committee meeting. Senators were quite eager to meet him when he had arrived, as he was quite the link to history long past. Unfortunately, the journey to Washington had been too much on Houston, and he was subsequently was taken to Johns Hopkins University Hospital, where he died after only two months in office on June 26, 1941.

The Four Nebraskan Placeholders of the Early Fifties: Seaton, Bowring, Abel, and Reynolds

Nebraska during the early 50s was rocked with change. On November 29, 1951, Senate Minority Leader Kenneth Wherry died from contracting pneumonia after abdominal surgery. He was succeeded by Fred Seaton, a liberal Republican, who declined to run a full term. Seaton’s elected successor, Dwight Griswold, died on April 12, 1954 of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Griswold was succeeded by Eva Bowring, who had been appointed until another election could be held to finish the term. This election was won by Hazel Abel, who had no intentions of going further than that with her only notable act being voting to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy. Abel would be succeeded by Carl Curtis, who would serve until 1979.

But wait, there’s more! Nebraska’s other senator, Hugh Butler, also died during the 83rd Congress on July 1, 1954. Samuel W. Reynolds, a coal businessman, was appointed a placeholder and served until Roman Hruska was elected to a full term and he would remain in the Senate until 1976.

Hall Stoner Lusk (D-Ore.)

In 1960, Senator Richard L. Neuberger died of a brain tumor. He was a Democrat, but Oregon’s governor, Mark Hatfield, was a Republican. Democrats feared that the popular Hatfield had senatorial ambitions and that if he sought a seat he would be unbeatable. The obvious choice for Neuberger’s successor would have been his wife Maurine, who was also a politician. However, Hatfield didn’t want to grant an incumbency advantage nor did he want to give the appearance that he was granting a partisan advantage, so instead of picking Neuberger’s widow or a Republican, he selected Democrat Hall Stoner Lusk, a justice of the Oregon Supreme Court who was by this time well into his seventies and thus had no further career ambitions. Lusk served from March 16th to November 8th, 1960, when Maurine Neuberger succeeded him, having won election to a full term. The Democrats, by the way, were right to fear Hatfield: he would succeed Neuberger after a single term and serve from 1967 to 1997.

Benjamin A. Smith (D-Mass.)

After John F. Kennedy was elected president, someone needed to hold the seat until another Kennedy could occupy it, and the newly elected president advised Governor Foster Furcolo to appoint Benjamin A. Smith, a family friend and his former roommate at Harvard, to the seat. Critics pointed out exactly what Smith was, and as expected, he served from December 1960 to November 1962, when Ted Kennedy ran for and won the seat.

Norris H. Cotton (R-N.H.)

Norris Cotton wouldn’t normally be on this list, having already had a long career in Washington from 1947 to 1974, but the Senate election that year was a squeaker between Republican Louis Wyman and Democrat John Durkin and an interim senator needed to be appointed while the results were recounted, so Cotton was, once again, in the Senate from August 8 to September 18, 1975, and was succeeded by the victor: Durkin.

Ted Kaufman (D-Del.)

Ted Kaufman was appointed to fill the vacancy left from Joe Biden’s resignation to serve as vice president on January 16, 2009. He became most known for his praise of federal employees in response to criticisms of them and in 2010, he opted not to run for a full term.

Paul G. Kirk (D-Mass.)

The 2009-10 session was a turbulent time for the Senate, with multiple senators resigning or dying. In this case, the Senate’s departure was Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who died of brain cancer. Kirk, a longtime player in national Democratic politics who had at one time chaired the Democratic National Committee and had been an aide to Kennedy, was appointed to hold the seat from September 24, 2009  to February 4, 2010, when he stepped down after the election of Scott Brown.

Carte Goodwin (D-W.V.)

Longtime Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) died on June 28, 2010, and a far younger man was appointed as placeholder. Goodwin was meant to hold the spot for the man who appointed him and who he had once run a campaign for, Joe Manchin, who wished to move up to senator.

Mo Cowan (D-Mass.)

In 2013, Massachusetts once again had a Senate vacancy to fill. Senator John F. Kerry was nominated Secretary of State by President Obama and resigned his seat. Cowan stated upon his appointment, “This is going to be a very short political career. I am not running for office. I’m not a candidate for public service at any time today or in the future” (Cassidy & Chabot). He served from February 1 to July 16, 2013.

Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Jon Kyl already had a 26-year career of accomplishment in Washington, but he was once again briefly called for service after the death of Senator John McCain, serving from September 5 to December 31, 2018.  During this time, he voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.


Cassidy, C. & Chabot, H. (2013, January 30). Gov names adviser Mo Cowan to interim Senate post. Boston Herald.

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Oliver, M. (2000, February 24). Maurine Neuberger; One of First Women in Senate. Los Angeles Times.

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Rudin, K. (2009, September 8). When Governors Appoint Themselves To The Senate. National Public Radio.

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S.I. Hayakawa – A Culture Warrior Goes to the Senate

In November 1968, San Francisco State University was in crisis. An active and aggressive campus left had resulted in a coalition of minority student groups, called the “Third World Liberation Front”, leading a strike and campus shutdown in protest of Eurocentric curriculum, a lack of discussion about oppression and identity, and a low percentage of minority students on campus. They made 15 “non-negotiable” demands to end the strike, including measures that gave outright and explicit preferences for blacks including a black studies department completely independent of university administration. Joining them on strike were Students for a Democratic Society and the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. Exacerbating the strike was the firing of George Mason Murray, the Black Panther Minister of Education who was suspended from his teaching assistant position after he reportedly remarked to a group of Fresno State College university students, “We are slaves and the only way to become free is to kill all the slave masters” (San Francisco State University). Confrontations during this period between student activists and police were marked by violence. The university president, Dr. Robert Smith, the sixth one in eight years, resigned after Murray beat him up in his office and he proved unable to end the strike. His temporary replacement was semantics professor Samuel Ichyie (“S.I.”) Hayakawa (1906-1992), a small 62-year old man. However, this man proved to have much more grit and fire than his predecessors. He made national news when on December 2nd, wearing a tam-o’-shanter, he disrupted protestors screaming obscenities into a loudspeaker by climbing onto a sound truck and ripping the cords out of the loudspeaker. This act made him a hero of what would be called the “silent majority” nationwide and became popularly known as “Samurai Sam” (U.S. House). In response to the “non-negotiable” demands he refused to negotiate, at least for a few months. Disruptions of classrooms were met with police, and he was able to get classes opened for other students. He would also in response to protesting shout back with a bullhorn. Hayakawa viewed his actions as defending the many students of all races who came to San Francisco State who attended to be educated, rather than engage in radical activism. As he argued, “What my colleagues seem to be forgetting is [that] we also have an obligation to the 17,500 or more students – white, black, yellow and brown – who are not on strike and have every right to expect continuation of their education” (U.S. House).  He also condemned “the intellectually slovenly habit, now popular among whites as well as blacks, of denouncing as racist those who oppose or are critical of any Negro tactic or demand” (Hayward). From this point on, liberal academics broke with Hayakawa, which took him aback. As he wrote later on the subject, “When I kept the university open for the benefit of our students and faculty, I thought I was doing a liberal thing, I don’t know anything more liberal than to maintain education for all who want it” (U.S. House). He did eventually give some ground to the protestors such as establishing the first Ethnic Studies Department and agreeing to admit nearly all minority students for fall 1969, ending the strike that had lasted five months. His approach proved effective at countering disruption and permitting the continuation of education for those who were not protesting and he was officially elected university president with the approval of Governor Ronald Reagan.

Before he took on disruptive campus protestors, Hayakawa was positively viewed by liberals and negatively viewed by conservatives. He had butted heads with ultra-conservative California Superintendent of Schools Max Rafferty and was known to support civil rights as well as the housing co-op movement. Hayakawa had established his reputation as a linguist through writing Language in Action (1941) and Language in Thought and Action (1949), in which he held that language can be used to describe reality but also to conceal reality (U.S. House). In the 1940s he also wrote an effective takedown of racism, “When, to take another example, is a person a “Negro”? By the definition accepted in the United States, any person with even a small amount of “Negro blood” – that is, whose parents or ancestors were classified as “Negroes” is a “Negro.” Logically, it would be exactly as justifiable to say that any person with even a small amount of “white blood” is “white.” Why do they say one rather than the other? Because the former system of classification suits the convenience of those making the classification” (Torii, 31). In 1942, Hayakawa joined The Chicago Defender, a black-owned newspaper, for which he wrote articles frequently criticizing anti-black racism until 1947. In 1952, Hayakawa denounced the JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) for endorsing the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act as an act of selfishness, since although it lifted racial prohibitions on Asian immigration and ultimately allowed him to become a citizen of the United States, it reinforced the discriminatory national origins quota system.

Hayakawa, as a New Deal liberal, believed that the way for civil rights to prevail was for gradual and consistent arguments that capitalized on reason and logic rather than disruptive and violent activism. Thus, people like Martin Luther King appealed to him, but as the sixties raged on and the Vietnam War escalated, radicals began seeking people more militant; some wanted to exit the road of non-violence. Starting in the late 1960s Hayakawa’s views grew more conservative and right after retiring from his post in 1973, he switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. In 1976, Senator John V. Tunney was seeking another term, but his liberal voting record was proving a weakness. Initially the leading contenders for the Republican nomination were establishment figures: moderate Congressman Alphonzo Bell, and former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Robert Finch. However, Hayakawa’s bid gained a lot of attention and he won over party conservatives, securing the nomination. He viewed his bid thusly, “I think the triumph of the New Left in the 1960s was really a blow against certain basic American values. One individual can do damn little about it, I suppose. This is some sort of moral gesture on my part. For after all, it seems to me the Senate is a platform from which you can preach” (U.S. House). During the campaign, Hayakawa appealed to a wide range of voters as a man of the people and through his glib responses, notably after he had been told that McDonald’s operated 100 restaurants in Japan: “What a terrible revenge for Pearl Harbor” (U.S. House). He also successfully lobbied for the pardon of Iva Toguri d’Aquino, known during World War II as radio broadcaster “Tokyo Rose”, who had been wrongfully convicted of treason. One of Ronald Reagan’s top advisors, Lyn Nofziger, stated in the leadup to the election, “There is no way for Hayakawa to win the election but he’s going to” (U.S. House). Indeed, he pulled off a victory by three points, running ahead of President Gerald Ford who won the state.

As a senator, Hayakawa proved to be…interesting. Although a conservative on economic and defense issues and on numerous cultural issues, indeed his MC-Index score is an 84%, he was not a rigid ideologue in the mold of Jesse Helms. He, for instance, opposed amendments limiting abortion and despite campaigning against the Panama Canal Treaty in 1976 and holding that “We should keep it. We stole it fair and square”, he voted for it on March 16, 1978 as a way to improve U.S.-Latin American relations (U.S. House). However, the culture issue he really pushed was assimilation, and this was one position that he had held in both the liberal and conservative phases of his life, that it was best for immigrants and minorities to assimilate into the existing culture. Hayakawa was thus one of eight senators to vote against extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 1982 and did so because he opposed bilingual ballot requirements that had been added in 1975. The previous year he had introduced an amendment to the Constitution to make English the official language of the United States. Hayakawa wished to “prevent a growing split among ethnic groups based on their native languages. With each trying to become more powerful than the other, the function of language could change from a means of communication to a tool of cultural assertion” (U.S. House). This is far from an implausible scenario: in his country of birth, Canada, this is exactly what has happened with Quebec and the French language. Hayakawa, incidentally, had earned his Master’s in English at McGill University in Montreal. He also opposed reparations for Japanese American internment and went as far as to say that internment was a necessary and good sacrifice for the war effort and that it had accelerated the integration of Japanese Americans into greater American society (U.S. House). In other words, according to Hayakawa, the American government had ultimately done Japanese Americans a favor. As a Canadian citizen in Chicago during World War II, he was not subject to internment and during the 1940s he had condemned them as “concentration camps” (Densho Encyclopedia). On economics, Hayakawa voted for the Reagan tax and budget program and was a strong supporter of a subminimum wage for teenagers as a way to boost their employment opportunities. However, by 1982 his star had fallen considerably and many Republicans wanted to move on from him. His staff was known to be often ineffective and he was not necessarily the best personality fit in the Senate. The press often had field days with him given that on multiple occasions he was caught sleeping during major votes and even during his orientation, which he explained as him being easily bored. Hayakawa initially wanted to run for reelection, but chose to retire after it was clear he would have an uphill battle to even be renominated. He was succeeded by San Diego’s popular Mayor Pete Wilson, one of the last of California’s successful statewide Republican politicians. In 1983, Hayakawa formed U.S. English, an organization that pushed for “English only” policies in the name of national unity and died nine years later. 

For conservatives, S.I. Hayakawa represented a counterrevolutionary reassertion of cherished American values and an example of how racial minorities can succeed in America while for liberals he was someone who when push came to shove sided with the white power structure and might be an example of why political firsts are overrated, a subject I will write on in the future. Hayakawa himself would probably wish to be remembered as an individualist, a patriot, an iconoclast, a foe of the identity politics of the New Left, and an unhyphenated American.


Hayakawa, Samuel Ichiye. United States House of Representatives.

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Hayward, S. Where is Sam Hayakawa When We Need Him? Powerline.

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S.I. Hayakawa. Densho Encyclopedia.

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The San Francisco State College Strike Collection. San Francisco State University.

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Torii, Y. S.I. Hayakawa and the African American Community in Chicago, 1939-1955. Setsunan University Academic Repository.

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